Sign the Petition! Model Ordinance for Great Apes

Gorillas, orangutans, and chimpanzees are our closest nonhuman primate cousins, and they are endangered. We must act now to protect them today, or they may not have a tomorrow. Please sign the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s petition, known as the Model Ordinance for Great Apes (PDF), today!

These extremely intelligent primates, along with humans, are classified as “great apes,” and are smarter than any other group of animals in the world. Great apes have complex social structures, rich emotional lives, and fascinating communication, tool-building, and problem solving abilities. In the wild, they often roam for miles at a stretch, and maintain very real family bonds that last a lifetime. Their capacity for suffering from stress, anxiety, deprivation, and pain is immense.

Yet many great apes continue to be held in captivity in the U.S. in substandard conditions–they deserve better. To help win better protections through the legal system for our closest relatives, the Animal Legal Defense Fund has drafted a model law known as the Model Ordinance for Great Apes that is designed to serve as the basis for local ordinances to protect great apes nationwide.

Did You Know?

  • The only federal law that protects great apes is the Animal Welfare Act, which provides primates with minimal and often inadequate standards of food, shelter, and cage enrichment at best.
  • The United States is the only country in the world (along with the tiny African nation of Gabon) that allows invasive laboratory exploitation of chimpanzees.
  • Chimpanzees in labs often undergo painful procedures over and over, and are kept in isolation. In the wild, chimpanzees live in complex social groups. If chimpanzees in labs don’t die from invasive testing they may spend their entire lives all alone in small, dark cages the size of a closet. Chimps in labs are often so miserable they self-mutilate.

Basic protections in ALDF’s Model Ordinance for Great Apes include proper care and guardianship of these magnificent animals, such as real enrichment and regular socializing, daily exercise, access to both indoors and outdoors, and the ability to express natural behaviors in all facilities. Regular veterinary care and a healthy diet must be provided.

Nearly 1,000 chimpanzees languish in biomedical testing facilities in the U.S., even though it has been established by the Institute of Medicine that they are ineffective models for research. More apes are bred in the misery of zoos, used as pets, and exploited for profit and exhibition in circuses. Under the Model Ordinance for Great Apes, chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans may not be bred or used for profit. They may not be subjected to invasive research, and they may not be sold. Euthanasia is only permitted by a licensed veterinarian, and only when it is in the best interest of the great ape.

These legal protections also mean that if a great ape escapes, the city will immediately notify the great ape guardian and assist efforts to regain control of the great ape. Any great ape that is then recovered will be transferred to an approved sanctuary. Great apes may not be killed unless, in extreme circumstances, the great ape presents an imminent danger to the public and cannot be captured safely.

Violations of the ordinance shall be punished upon conviction by a fine of up to $1,000 and one year in jail–and will mean the transference of the great ape to an approved sanctuary that will be granted temporary guardianship. The court will determine the suitability of great ape guardianship based on the best interests of the great ape. ALDF thinks these basic rights must be granted for the care and guardianship of all great apes in the U.S.

What You Can Do

Gorillas, orangutans, and
chimpanzees are our closest nonhuman primate cousins, and they are endangered. We
must act now to protect them today, or they may not have a tomorrow. Please
sign the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s petition, known as the Model Ordinance for
Great Apes, today!

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